I grew up spending two weeks each summer going to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina with my family. The Lowcountry is a special place for me. Those summers were idyllic. I love the beauty of the marshes and the long, wide sandy beaches with sand dunes and sea oats. This is my second home (thanks Dad for retiring there!). I've always loved the easy, breezy Lowcountry beach lifestyle, perhaps even more now that I'm living on the west coast and don't get to Hilton Head as often as I'd like.
However, I've also fallen in love with the Wine Country lifestyle. After all, I did a TV show about it for 10 years, In Wine Country. So when I found out Robert Mondavi, Jr. and his wife Lydia were building a house and launching a home collection in Beaufort, SC, I had to find out more.
The Mondavi name is the most famous in American wine. Rob's grandfather is Robert Mondavi, the man who tirelessly championed the quality of Napa Valley wines as good as, or even better than French wines. He also started a wine culture in America, bringing together his wines and well-known chefs such as Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck and Alice Water, along with the arts at his namesake winery. Rob continues that legacy, as winemaker and president of Michael Mondavi Family Estate.
Lydia Mondavi launched 29 Cosmetics in 2007. 29 Cosmetics is a grape seed oil based line of skin care and makeup and is sold at Neiman Marcus and high end boutiques. Earlier this year she launched the Lydia by Lydia Mondavi skin care collection at Target, bringing the benefits of resveratrol to us all. Her ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for South Carolina.
Now the couple wants you to be able to bring Wine Country and the Lowcountry into your own home.
"The point of the home is to be together," Rob says. He and Lydia built a summer beach retreat on the coast in Beaufort, between Charleston and Savannah. They have a view of the Atlantic ocean and Hilton Head Island, a dock and a beach.
They designed the home together, pulling in elements of Lydia's southern heritage and Lowcountry outdoor lifestyle with actual pieces from Rob's family's winery history, to create a home where Wine Country meets the Lowcountry.
This week Lydia and Rob debut the Mondavi Home Collection with an open house at their new home. Think of it as an idea house for combining southern hospitality and the California Wine Country indoor-outdoor lifestyle with cooking and entertaining. The couple plans to share it with friends and family as they entertain on a regular basis.
A focal point in the home comes is the reclaimed wood throughout, including the flooring, beams and bar backsplash.
Redwood from old wine casks that were originally in the Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley was milled and transformed into beams, a fireplace mantle and a sliding barn door. Rob's great grandparents bought the winery in 1943; his great uncle Peter Mondavi, Sr., the patriarch, turns 100 this November. The casks were installed by Charles Krug, who opened his winery in 1861. Rob says his great uncle and uncles Peter and Marc Mondavi had saved the wood from those redwood tanks when they were no longer being used and taken apart in the 1950s.
The bar backsplash is made from decommissioned wine barrels from Rob's winery in Napa. The colors represent the types of wines that were in barrel. The golden hues are Chardonnay, cherry tones are Pinot Noir and deep red is Cabernet Sauvignon.
The flooring, Lydia says, is made from reclaimed pine wood from and old Bourbon distillery in Kentucky. "Both Rob and I love Bourbon," she says, and what better way to bring in an element with a southern heritage.
This flooring and bar backsplash, called the Mondavi Reserve Barrel Collection are available through the Mondavi Home Collection by Authentic Reclaimed Flooring in Locust Grove, Georgia.
Lydia and Rob want their home to be a place where family and guests can come together and that's why they made the great room, with views of the water, open to the kitchen and dining areas, the heart of the house.
"I love being in the kitchen with friends and family," Rob says. Growing up he was lucky enough to be around great chefs such as Julia Child. "When I was 11, 12 years old I offered her a ride on my new 10 speed bicycle," he says, "which she of course got a great chuckle out of. But food and wine have been hand in hand in my life. I think people are engaged in cooking because we've learned so much. Thank god for Julia Child who has made this accessible."
But Rob wanted the kitchen to be an even more inviting place to hang out. One design element he's most excited about is the ventilation system that he collaborated on with Thermador. The range in the center island has a quiet system, so that people can talk and taste wine while Rob is cooking without having aromas overwhelm the wine's bouquet or being drowned out by a blower noise. Notice how the hood is also cleverly hidden.
Instead of building a cellar, the couple installed wine columns from Thermador that have separate temperature zones for white and red wines.
For Lydia, she wanted to share her southern upbringing with her three year old son, Robert Mondavi, III, so he could enjoy all the things she grew up with, like lightening bugs, shrimping, thunderstorms and Spanish moss hanging from live oak trees. She also wanted to create a retreat. "We designed this house to be that escape and a totally different place and feel from what we have in Napa," Lydia says. This is living in the best of both worlds, creating a true personal design aesthetic bringing Wine Country and Lowcountry together.
Photographs by Josh Gibson, Courtesy Mondavi Home Collection